(Not much about language.)

It starts with a postcard from Xopher Walker, a photograph by an artist I was unfamiliar with, Paul Blanca (for maximum confusion, there’s also a photographer Paul Branca, and Google really truly wants to tell me about Branca rather than Blanca): the 1985 “Selfportrait decoration”, a male torso shot, showing a line of chest hair and the model’s (Blanca’s) left nipple, and in between a safety pin piercing in his pectoral muscle and, below that, a white composite flower (like a small chrysanthemum flower) looking much like a boutonnière. I’ve added a caption of my own: “Piercing, man, piercing” (a little pun).

I’m describing the photo rather than showing it, because my scanner makes trash of the original and I couldn’t find an on-line version of it. In any case, it’s certainly arresting.

[Update 5/23: JackH has found a web source; link in his comment below, image here:


Now for some background.

1. About Blanca. From the awkward Wikipedia entry:

Paul Blanca, alias Paul Vlaswinkel (born 11 November 1958, Amsterdam), is an art photographer. He creates portraits which explore strong emotions.

… In the 1980s Blanca received recognition for his violent self-portraits inspired by the works of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe.

… Blanca was influenced by the choreographer, photographer and photographic studio owner Hans van Manen. In van Manen’s work, Pose, Blanca played a kickboxer (Blanca had been a kickboxer in his teens) surrounded by ten ballerinas.

Mapplethorpe mentored Blanca, introducing him to New York high society, including artists such as Grace Jones, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning and Keith Haring.

… Blanca’s self-portraits reveal strong emotions and violence expressed through fear, aggression, pain, sadness and sexuality. However, a more sensitive side is shown in the nudes, “Mother and Son” and “Father and Son” [and father and son, as in “Paul and Benno” of 1984, showing Blanca cradling the baby Benno in his arms:]


(I’ve cropped the image a bit to eliminate genital nudity, for the sake of WordPress. The pubic hair remains.)

2. Some other images. Like Mapplethorpe, Blanca focuses on male (and clearly homoerotic) photography, and views even flowers and women with a queer eye (the tender family portraits are something else). A self-portrait from 1982, again with piercing:


And a much more recent photo, “Domestic violence Giulia” from 2008:


3. The little pun. The caption I’ve added comes from musical comic Stan Freberg: his “Banana Boat Song” of 1957, which you can view here:

The routine has two players: a lead singer (1, sung material is in boldface; otherwise, everything is spoken) and a beatnik bongo drummer (2, speaking only):

1: Daylight come and
Me wan go home
2: My ears, man, like my ears
1: Day. 2: No, hold it, man
1: Me say day-o 2: It’s too shrill, man
2: It’s too piercing
1: Well, I don’t see why
2: No, it’s too piercing, man
It’s too piercing
1: Well, I got to do the shout
2: No, man, it’s too piercing

Piercing, man, piercing.

3 Responses to “Piercing”

  1. JackH Says:

    This one?


  2. Roger Klorese Says:

    The only Blanca image I’m aware of ever seeing was “Paul and Benno” — it was a very popular image, and I always found it to be hot as hell.

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